One day I would like one of my children or future grandchildren to find such a box. I do not have an attic but I do have a box - it is my family memory box and I have created it for my children and I hope they hold onto it to share with their children one day! It is likely that most of their memories will be digital, they will operate a mouse or touch a screen to bring up images from the past. This box is for the handwritten memories - the birthday cards, the valentines and anniversary cards and the messages of congratulations on the birth of children which were once attached to bouquets of flowers.
I would love to share with you my family memory box - to show you what I have chosen to keep. It is more than just a box of sentimental stuff - it is the story of my life!
The bundle of cards tied in red ribbon are cards sent to me from friends on special occasions. I have tied on a tag for the person - on my children's tags I have written out their name and its meaning. There are also cards from my children for Mother's Day and valentines and anniversary wishes from my husband.
Another lovely place I have fond memories of is Oak Tree Cottage near Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand. It is quite a number of years ago that I had the pleasure of visiting this homely gift shop in the setting of an early colonial cottage. Everything was for sale from the pottery on the kitchen dresser in the dining room to embroidered towels and linens in the bedrooms and one room was even turned into a Christmas room. I was in heaven and it took some persuasion on the part of my husband to get me to leave so we could continue our trip - especially to drag me out of that Christmas room! I'd love to know if Oak Tree Cottage is still there should we ever go back for a trip to the South Island! I'd love to pay a return visit.
Another reminder of a home is this roll of a wallpaper border. Remember when borders were all the rage in the early 1990's! This border is the one I chose for the living room of our first home. It is by Laura Ashley and it not only brings back memories of my first home but also my favourite clothing and homewares shop. As a teenager I would wander around the Laura Ashley store sighing at all the floaty, feminine dresses that I could not afford and dreaming of one day having a 'Laura Ashley' home! I still have my Laura Ashley white lace napkins - a wedding gift and another touch of England that graced my table when we first began to open up our home and offer hospitality as a married couple! So if you are thinking of putting together a memory box remember to keep swatches of fabrics, wallpapers, even the paint colour you chose when you decorated your home. In years to come they will bring back sweet memories of home!
These Oriental inspired cards are from my daughter's bundle - they will always remind me of her passion for Asia. I now have some paintings to add to her bundle - ones she has completed at her Mandarin class where her teacher who is an artist is also teaching her Chinese brushwork!
The ticket is from the first sports game she attended, a rugby union match in Christchurch. I will not mention the result on the day for the All Blacks lost - she will not remember it, she was just a baby but I do, for I have breastfed babies in some amazing places - on the top of a mountain in New Zealand for instance, but the embankment in a sports stadium packed with rugby supporters was the most unusual! No one noticed but the fans around us who had consumed a beer or two were rather taken with my daughter's bright blue eyes and started singing 'Baby's got blue eyes' at the tops of their voices! It was just hilarious! I have told my daughter this story - remember to do this too - tell your children stories from their childhood.
Do you keep every single drawing your children doodle, paint or crayon? I don't but I have preserved some special artworks in family newsletters sent out at Christmas. This drawing is from 2001. It is actually the classical singer from New Zealand, Hayley Westenra, drawn by my daughter after we attended one of her concerts in Timaru. She wore a blue dress that sparkled so much and bedazzled my little girl that she insisted on adding glitter to her original painting that this drawing is copied from! Reading the family newsletters from years gone by is lots of fun. In this one I was letting friends know about our decision to move to Australia and apparently, my favorite TV show back then was 'Monarch of the Glen'!
There are only a few items in my box from my childhood and they are the only possessions I have to remind me of my grandparents. The book 'Mary's Bible' was given to me on my eighth birthday by my grandfather. He died when I was ten . I loved this true story and have read it to my older children. I'm going to read it to all of my children and hope they read it to their children one day!
The postcards are from 1908 and were written to my grandmother or possibly her sister, they begin 'My Dear Miss Fawcett'. So formal, so polite, so beautiful! I am looking forward to finding out more about the life of my grandmother as we research our family history but these cards give just a little glimpse into her life. From the content I have realized that she was a regular correspondent. One card is a real photograph of people that she obviously knew, as the writer lets her know who is sitting where in the shot which shows a group of people enjoying a picnic in Edwardian England. The picture is fading but the dresses and the detail of the magnificent hats is still evident and in the days before paper cups and our throwaway society, they drank from china cups on the grounds where they 'lunched'.
Oh how I wish I had more letters and postcards to read from days gone by!
It is why I am keeping my box of memories and written correspondence is something to treasure in an age when hand written letters are becoming a fading memory replaced by electronic communications and social networking sites. I will admit Facebook is a useful tool for finding old friends. I had lost touch with my penfriend in Germany when she moved cities but she found me on Facebook. But when we were young people, this is how we kept in touch!
She may be surprised to know that I kept the letters and photographs she sent to me. We have met on three occasions, my first overseas trip was to visit her in the beautiful city of Heidelberg.
I only open up my Family Memory Box once in a while but I always enjoy reliving each moment in time. I will be tying up another little bundle of cards soon but for now they still decorate my window in the family room. By the way, my little man is still smiling! In fact he just loves to smile, laugh and communicate with me - that will be a memory that I will always want to hold onto; the cards and the hospital bracelets will go into the box but the smiles go straight to the heart!
The bon bon is the one I created for his first Christmas. I do not have the time to stitch elaborate cross stitch samplers these days but the bon bon is an expression of me and how I love to craft at Christmas time and make lovely things for my family. I'm hoping this one stays intact as a special memory of our family Christmas in 2009.
If you don't have a Family Memory Box and if you do not have the time or the inclination to scrapbook, I hope this post inspires you to consider creating a memory box. Just remember to choose a big strong box to hold all those precious memories. I found my box at Aldi for just $10! The lid is going back on for now but one day in the future perhaps a son or daughter will lift the lid and discover not just bundles of cards and letters tied up with ribbon but rather relationships, love, memories, treasured times of family life and know how much they were loved and cherished - for the real treasure is the person, not the possession.
With Love and Joy,